Special Issue Article
Positive Consequences of False Memories
Article first published online: 11 JUL 2013
Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
Behavioral Sciences & the Law
Special Issue: Memory Formation and Suggestibility in the Legal Process
Volume 31, Issue 5, pages 652–665, September/October 2013
How to Cite
Howe, M. L., Garner, S. R. and Patel, M. (2013), Positive Consequences of False Memories. Behav. Sci. Law, 31: 652–665. doi: 10.1002/bsl.2078
- Issue published online: 9 OCT 2013
- Article first published online: 11 JUL 2013
- Manuscript Accepted: 12 FEB 2013
- Manuscript Revised: 15 SEP 2012
- Manuscript Received: 12 JUL 2012
Previous research is replete with examples of the negative consequences of false memories. In the current research, we provide a different perspective on false memories and their development and demonstrate that false memories can have positive consequences. Specifically, we examined the role false memories play in subsequent problem-solving tasks. Children and adults studied and recalled neutral or survival-relevant lists of associated words. They then solved age-normed compound remote associates, some of whose solutions had been primed by false memories created when studying the previous lists. The results showed that regardless of age: (a) survival-related words were not only better recollected but were also more susceptible than neutral words to false memory illusions; and (b) survival-related false memories were better than neutral false memories as primes for problem-solving. These findings are discussed in the context of recent speculation concerning the positive consequences of false memories, and the adaptive nature of reconstructive memory. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.